After lifetime of being around hockey, Tyler Liffrig officiates NCAA title game

Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 8:48 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Tyler Liffrig is the Marauders’ all-time leader in home runs and doubles, but he’s making history in another sport right now.

Liffrig’s hobby is reffing hockey games, and that hobby took him to the pinnacle of the college game.

“I’ve been to three NCAA tournaments. Twice in Bridgeport, Connecticut, once in Worchester, Massachusetts, but this was my first Frozen Four. In Tampa, and it was amazing,” said Liffrig.

Liffrig was a linesman in the NCAA national championship game two Saturdays ago between Minnesota and Quinnipiac.

“I’m not going to say I wasn’t nervous, because I remember going to lunch on Saturday as a crew. Walking back to the hotel, usually, you come back and take a nap. There was no nap Saturday,” said Liffrig.

Once he got to the rink, it was just another hockey game. A sport he has followed since his dad was a referee in Williston.

“Part of it, just experiencing that time with my dad. Seeing him at an older age being able to give back to a sport,” said Liffrig.

That time influenced Tyler enough that he started officiating games at only 14. After moving to the capital city to play baseball at U-Mary, he found more opportunities on the ice.

“It wasn’t until I got down to Bismarck and thought about the hockey scene here. I started reffing and they started pushing me on to the next level of going to a camp or working some junior hockey, and that’s where it took off from there,” said Liffrig.

When the NCHC formed, Liffrig was in the right place at the right time. He joined the conference in its inaugural season in 2013 and has been doing games ever since. With a wife and three kids, they’ve grown up with the game like he did during his days in the Basin City.

“I’ve had a great support system of a wife that’s allowed me to do this. She’s stayed back home with the three kids because she knows how much I love it. But the kids are at the age now where they’re starting to enjoy coming along, so they can experience that too. To see their faces doing that, being able to see their dad on the ice, that’s special too,” said Liffrig.

Officiating the Frozen Four championship is the mountaintop of what Tyler loves to do. Coming back to North Dakota, he hopes to mentor the next group of officials to get a chance on that stage.

“I don’t want to be the last person to come through here and do this. I want to see the next two, three, four, five guys come through and do this. Whatever I can do to help those officials, I want to be there to help and I know that we have many other guys here in the community that will do that,” said Liffrig.

Tyler says he’s not ready to hang up the black and white stripes yet, but will take a step back when his kids start competing in the coming years.